California O Shaughnessy Dam Analysis

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The progressive era in the United States helped to spawn one of the first great conservative movements in the country. The conservative movement occurred as a result of the troubling theory that the fast paced urban development and industrial growth of the nation would lead to the extinction of wilderness areas in the United States. One of the most significant events during the era was that of the debate over the construction of the O 'Shaughnessy Dam in the Hetch Hetchy Valley located in California’s Yosemite National Park. After an earthquake crippled the city of San Francisco in the early 1900’s, the residents of the city recognized that they would require better-equipped ways to make certain that they had a steady supply of electricity and…show more content…
However, a careful analysis of the reasons behind the creation of the dam and how the dam was built without much damage to the environment itself, as the system relies entirely on gravity to deliver this water; therefore no pumping stations were necessary, then it is very likely that the decision to build the dam was the correct one.
The O 'Shaughnessy Dam is a vital component of the Hetch Hetchy Valley water system that provides water to the San Francisco Bay Area and surrounding communities. Nearly “2.4 million people rely upon the dam,” for their supply or electricity and water (Crabtree, 2013). The demand for the damn came about as a result of the idea during the progressive era in the United Sates that the introduction of public works to certain areas was the most beneficial ways in building a great civilization. San Francisco Mayor James Phelan and the San Francisco City Engineer Michael O’Shaughnessy, both whole-heartedly believed in such an idea. That in order for the people of San
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On the other hand, many preservationists did not share the same conclusions as Mr. Pinchot or Mr. Phelan. John Muir, often described as the one of the front-runners of helping to establish the creation of national parks in the United States, was one of those individuals. To Muir, any human alteration to the valley would be only the first step in many in extinguishing America’s entire wilderness. Muir even described the sacredness of the Hetch Hetchy Valley in his excerpt titled the Hetch Hetchy Valley, “Dam Hetch Hetchy! As well dam for water-tanks the people 's cathedrals and churches, for no holier temple has ever been consecrated by the heart of man” (Muir, 1908). Other writings by Muir depict the valley as something so scenic it as if it came out of a fairy tale. It was not as though Muir did not understand the consequences of not damming the valley. Muir understood that the city was in need of an adequate water supply; he simply believed that national parks and other wilderness areas should be excluded from damming. Thus, Muir did not agree with the idea that a dam for San Francisco needed to be in a national park. Muir and the Sierra Club led a battle against Mr. Pinchot, Mr. Phelan and others who believed it was appropriate to construct the O 'Shaughnessy Dam. Muir argued that his opponents were not looking at the bigger picture. He believe that allowing the construction of the dam would deny the American public the ability to enjoy the Hetch Hetchy Valley like their

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